Pansy/viola care

PANSY viola x wittrockiana

One of my favorite flowers is the pansy. The flat-faced, lightly fragranced flowers that come in dozen of colors always make me smile. They are great in flower boxes, hanging baskets, bedding plants as well as an addition to your mixed salad. When grown without pesticides, pansy flowers are edible . The flower petals have a mild savory flavor.

An easy way to make an Easter table arrangement:
Combine 3-4 pansies in a basket, cover with grass, add colored eggs and finish off with pussy willows or any other spring flowering branches.

Growing pansies
Pansies can be grown in areas where the summers are cool and winters are mild as they tolerate temperatures below freezing (-15F) and prefer cool summer temperatures below 85F.

In southern states (zones 7 -9), pansy is grown as a winter plant. It blooms in the fall thrives thru the winter and then starts to blooms again in spring.
In the north, it is mostly grown as an annual but new cultivars such as ‘Skyline’, ‘Sky’, ‘Etain’, ‘Maxims’, Universal Plus’ have been known to be both heat and cold tolerant providing a longer blooming period.  The super hardy varieties can survive the winter as far north as zone 4 as long as they are planted early enough in the season. Pansies stop developing new roots when soil temperatures drop below 45 degrees, therefore it is important to plant early in order to establish a good root system before the soil freezes. When freezing winds begin to fly, add 2-3″ of mulch for protection.

Care: Plant pansies in rich, moist, well-drained soil in full sun to dappled shade and protect from the hot summer sun. Space them 6-8 inches apart. Add a balanced fertilizer at the time of planting and for maximum bloom, give the plant additional light feedings once a month over the growing period. Water early in the day (1/2-1″ per wk) to provide even moisture and avoid over-head watering to prevent fungal disease.

Bloom time
They bloom best in early spring before the hot summer sets in which causes them to stop blooming. For additional fall bloom, cut the plants down to 2 inches in July and fertilize. They will bounce back with the cooler temperatures.
Deadheading will prolong bloom time and pinching periodically will produce a bushy plant.

Pansies can be started from seeds in late winter 10-12 weeks before the last frost date.

Insect problems
Aphids, slugs, snails, earwigs and sowbugs-love the emerging buds.